Burlington Northern and Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway is a standard-gauge US Class 1 freight railroad (major freight railroad) which operates over the Southwestern, Northwestern, and Midwestern United States.
The railroad was formed when the Santa Fe (ATSF) and Burlington Northern (BN) US Class 1 regional railroads merged in 1995-1996, creating what is now known as BNSF Railway.
BNSF operates over 1,000 or so trains per day, but as a result of such makes the railroad one of Union Pacific's main rivals (though both railroads operate over mostly the same trackage; yet, BNSF mainly covers routes and freight traffic that the UP doesn't. Such as some of the lines around the Powder River Basin in Wyoming). Norfolk Southern is one of their main partners as well. Yet; ironically, both NS and BNSF suffered during the economic down-turn (or the Great Recession) during 2008 in the United States.
They are currently headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas.
During the early 1990's, the last original remaining US Class 1 railroads were slowly in the process of becoming absorbed or merging into other railroads which began the next generation of railroading. As opposed to having over 60 or more Class 1 freight railroads covering the 48 mainland states throughout the nation, they became narrowed down to about 8 as a result of the "Railroad Hell" or the "Decline of Railroads" throughout the United States. Though, before 1995, 1996, and 1999; when such railroads as the SP, Conrail, CNW, and DRGW became defunct, the railroad freight market experienced several spikes (both negative and positive) during such times during the "Mega Mergers" during the 1990's. During BNSF's creation, however; the railroad experienced such issues, but was able to manage.
Although the ATSF and BN's merger was one of the results of the decline, yet the merger was one of the most successful railroad mergers (besides CSX) to actually not have any financial issues (unlike Penn Central); though the railroad briefly struggled during numerous market spikes (as listed above), and to not have absorbed one another like with the Union Pacific and Southern Pacific merger in 1996.
The success of the creation of BNSF led to having more trains over the former ATSF and BN's rail lines (as well as the expansion of other lines), more customers, the retirement of older locomotive units (such as the F45), the purchase of newer locomotive types (such as the Dash 9), and the creation of a new scheme and logo for the new company's locomotive fleets.
BNSF's history is still being written as of today.
BNSF operates over former ATSF trackage throughout:
- New Mexico
While their BN trackage consists of:
- Illinois (once shared Chicago racetrack line with ATSF before merger)
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
- Manitoba, Canada (Former Burlington Northern Manitoba Railway (BNML))
In 1996, a shy year after the merger, BNSF officially established their first official paintscheme known as "Heritage 1" (H1), which consists of having an ATSF-style logo as their official logo. In 1999, the "Heritage 2" (H2) scheme was introduced with ATSF-style lettering, with the current "Heritage 3" (H3) scheme being released in 2005 with their current "swoosh" style logo, which is considered to be the first official logo to be completely new and original. Their paintscheme or livery colors are orange, yellow and black (although sometimes dark green) on their H1, H2, and H3 schemes. The H3 scheme has the same design as the H2 scheme, but with the "swoosh" logos added (the color schemes are often nicknamed "pumpkin" or "pumpkins" by enthusiasts).
Many former patched and unpatched (units or locomotives with patchwork) BN and ATSF units still exist on their roster, but are often mistaken for their counter-part's existence; to which most average people confuse the precceding ATSF and BN railroad's existence with the lettering and paintschemes still remaining as opposed to being fully-repainted into the current, succeeding company's scheme.
Aside from the H1 and H2 logo's being from ATSF origin, the H1 scheme is designed after the BN's "cascade" scheme used on their SD70MAC's, with the H2 scheme being more simple like with the BN's primary scheme, but having an ATSF-style hood logo and side lettering.
BNSF #961 was the first new locomotive to wear the company's first official paint scheme. BNSF #2099 (GP38-2) was the first older unit repainted in H1. It is also the only standard cab locomotive BNSF painted with silver trucks and fuel tank.
- BNSF was the very first railroad to purchase the very first ever North American A1A-trucked, AC-traction GE ES44C4 diesel locomotive: a revolutionary type of locomotive which has since gained a huge popularity with the railroad since the first batch of 20 units built and ordered in 2010.
- BNSF has 121 AC4400CW units that are used for heavy bulk train service such as on coal and grain serivce, however, as of 2013, some of these units begun to show up on intermodel, autorack and other mixed trains. None are repainted in the H3 scheme as of October 2013.
- BNSF pre-production ES44AC #5730 was repainted in the H3 scheme in late 2012.
- Although the BNSF merger was finalized in 1996, ATSF had 100 C44-9Ws on order. Because of this, #700-799 retained their Dash 9 "Warbonnet" liveries, but recived BNSF lettering on the sides as a result of the merger
- BNSF #8251 (SD75M) was the first unit delivered to BNSF.
- Several former BN and ATSF units from their fleets such as the SD70MAC, C40-8W, B40-8W, and GP60M units retain their original numbers as opposed to being renumbered like other units from BNSF's predecessor's heritage.
- BNSF's paintschemes are often referred to or nicknamed "pumpkins" by railfans; aside from repainted and patched former ATSF "Warbonnet" units known as a "Fake-bonnets," as well as faded Warbonnet units nicknamed "Pink-bonnets," with weathered and/or worn units known as a "Trash-bonnet."
- BNSF SD70MAC #9647 "The Vomit Bonnet" (or "Barf Bonnet", as nicknamed by railfans), is BNSF's first-painted locomotive, and was one of the last SD70MAC's built, whom received a special experimental scheme to commemorate the "marriage" of the ATSF and BN. (This unit now retains the H3 scheme as of May 2013.). It was the only locomotive to have the full name, "Burlington Northern Santa Fe" spelled out on the long hood.
- BNSF SD60M #1474 (renumbered from #8197 in June 2014) "The Great Pumpkin" (one of the only later SD60M units purchased by the BN before the merger; not having a "tri-clops" cab) was also painted in an experimental scheme, and is still in existence as of December 2015.
- GE Dash 9's and GEVO's are BNSF's primarily-used diesel locomotives, and can often be seen on almost every mainline train.
- A few years into the merger, BNSF repainted most of their former ATSF Warbonnet-painted diesel locomotives into an updated patched scheme. As well as patching their fleet of former BN SD70MAC's to avoid confusion with their fleet of former ATSF SD75M's. (Yet, most SD75M units have been repainted with most SD70MAC units still have their original paint.)
- They've recently purchased a fleet of GATX leased GP38-2's and patched most of them with their H3 logo's.
- BNSF's second order of Dash 9's originally weren't fully painted due to BNSF being very power short at the time and wanting the units to be out and in service ASAP. As time permitted, these units found their way into the shop to have their paint compleated.
- They also originally painted their wide-cab diesel locomotives in their H2 scheme during the H2 era, with every other standard cab or special units being painted in their H1 scheme similar to how the ATSF's Yellowbonnet and Warbonnet schemes were used. Yet, as of 2005, Heritage-3 is used on every locomotive, with standard cab units getting the single stripe heritage-1esque paint, but same colors and logos as Heritage-3. As of 2013, the single stripe paint scheme is given to all switch engines, regardless of the type of cab; several SD60Ms and one GP60M have this paint.
- BNSF ES44DC #7695 is the only Heritage 3-painted unit to have yellow "powerbar" or "swoosh" logos on BNSF's roster.
- BNSF ES44DC 7687 was the first BNSF diesel locomotive in Heritage 3 paint.
- BNSF also uses a fleet of former BN (originally GN) rotary snowplows rebuilt from old EMD F units.
- As of August 2013, only eight SD70MAC units have been repainted into the H3 scheme; #8987, #9526, #9541, #9588, #9647, #9753, #9839, and #9846.
- Only 12 Dash 8-40CW and 39 Dash 9-44CW units have been repainted into the H3 scheme.
- Of the 85 C40-8Ws not sold to CN, #882, #915, #932, #935, #936, #937, #939, #942, #947 wear Heritage 3 paint.
- BNSF #516, #524, #525, and #563 are also the only B40-8W units to be repainted into the H3 scheme.
- BNSF #8617, #8625, and #8612 are the only ATSF "Yellowbonnet"-painted B40-8 units left on their roster.
- ATSF 4-8-4 #3751 was also owned by the BNSF and operated several steam excursions under BNSF's ownership.
- Most of the C40-8W units (such as the one's shown in the article galleries) were placed in storage and their paint deteriorated.
- BNSF #1050 the "Odd-ball Dash 9" is a former H1-painted unit which eventually received H2 patchwork in the center, making the odd combination of two paintschemes known (humorously) as "Heritage 1.2".
- BNSF #8070 (now HLCX #8070; formerly BN #8070) was a former BN SD40-2 unit which was repainted with an unusual H1 emblem (the unit no longer bears or wears such emblem as a result of being a unit owned by the HLCX leasing company).
- The oldest locomotive BNSF operated was #1460, an SWBLW, referred to as a "Beep". It was built in 1943 as a Baldwin VO-1000, and rebuilt by Santa Fe in 1970 with and EMD engine and long hood, keeping its Baldwin frame, and cab. It was retired by BNSF in 2009 and donated to a mueseum, 66 years after being built. It was also the only BNSF locomotive to wear the Santa Fe "Pinstripe" paibnt scheme.
- BNSF owns and operates a small section of track in Winnipeg, Canada, as "BNSF Manitoba".
- BNSF Dash 9-44CW #4723, GP38-2 #2081 and SD40-2 #7171 are featured in the 2001 Microsoft game Train Simulator. The Dash 9 and GP38-2 are playable while the SD40-2 appears as an AI-controlled locomotive but it can be made playable by downloading a mod. The real #4723 has a sticker stating as Microsoft Train Simulator's featured locomotive stuck on its cab sides.